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In a post on his blog Pedestrian Observations, Alon Levy explores the peculiar truth that Los Angeles is technically denser than New York, yet is still sprawling, car-centric, and difficult to serve with public transit.
Los Angeles is currently in the midst of a $120 billion expansion of its rail system, as well as a full redesign of its bus network. But Levy argues that to create comprehensive public transit, the city also needs to revise its approach to land use and urban design. After a deep dive comparing statistics on transit ridership, housing density, and job concentration in cities around the world, Levy concludes that the problem facing Los Angeles is where its density is located.
"In Los Angeles, there is no structure to density. There are some missing middle and mid-rise neighborhoods, but few form contiguous blobs of high density that can be served by a rapid transit line … Its dense areas are too far away from one another and from job centers.
... In Los Angeles there is exactly one way out: fix the urban design, and reinforce it with a strong rail network."